NCAA March Madness: Texas Longhorns vs. Penn State Nittany Lions betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 2 vs. 10 matchup in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament, the Texas Longhorns face the Penn State Nittany Lions for a spot in the Sweet 16. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Texas vs. Penn State
When: Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
Odds for Texas vs. Penn State
Spread: Texas -5.5
(Odds accurate as of Thursday, March 16th at 11:50 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
Midwest Region No. 2 Seed Texas Longhorns
Texas battled through adversity early in the season, with head coach Chris Beard's off-court issues leading to his firing. Rodney Terry has done a remarkable job filling in for the Longhorns, who were one of the hottest teams in basketball in the second half of the season. Only a few teams can say they’re more efficient than Texas offensively. The Longhorns have legitimate firepower in the backcourt in guards Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice and Tyrese Hunter. The team is deep with contributors, and this group can defend, too. Their victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament final proves they can win this entire tournament. They also covered as 14-point favorites against the Colgate Raiders in the first round, showing that they mean business right now.
Midwest Region No. 10 Seed Penn State Nittany Lions
Good guard play is something that goes a long way in March Madness, so Penn State is going to feel like an extended run is imminent. This team is extremely deep at the position, with five guards that average at least 20.0 minutes for the Nittany Lions. Jalen Pickett is the one to remember, as he is a guy that can really fill up the stat sheet. Pickett is also a tremendous three-point shooter, and the former Siena Saints star is capable of having some big moments in this tournament — he certainly did in the Big Ten tourney. The Nittany Lions just need to clean things up defensively. They’re tremendous offensively, but the defense was an issue all year long. But it's hard to ignore what this team did to Texas A&M in the first round. The Aggies were one of the few teams in the country that beat Alabama this year, but the Nittany Lions made quick work of Buzz Williams' team in the first round.
Texas vs. Penn State matchup analysis
It's hard to enter a tournament hotter than Texas did, as the Longhorns won four in a row to end the year and two of those victories came against the Kansas Jayhawks — with one being in the Big 12 Tournament final. This team proved to be one of the strongest in all of college basketball this season, finishing fourth in our VSiN Team Power Ratings. Texas is loaded all throughout the lineup, but there's no denying that Penn State is a tough draw right now.
The Nittany Lions shot the lights out against the Texas A&M Aggies in the first round, as they were 13 for 22 on their 3s. Andrew Funk hit eight of those triples and was really feeling it from deep. Meanwhile, star point guard Jalen Pickett had 19 points, eight dimes and seven rebounds in the win. He's a guy that can always be counted on to stuff the stat sheet, and his presence is one of the reasons it's hard to believe Texas will blow Penn State out.
Pickett has consistently made great decisions with the ball in his hands all year, and this team is playing its best basketball of the season right now. Penn State had won eight of its final nine games of the year before losing a nail biter against the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tournament finals. With that in mind, this isn't your average 10th-seeded team. The Nittany Lions have proven they can beat anyone, and they'll be confident here.
Another thing to note when looking at this game is that Texas defended the three-point line rather well all year. The Longhorns were 84th in the nation in 3P% defense according to Bart Torvik. However, not many teams shoot it quite like the Nittany Lions. They were fifth in the nation in 3P% this year, and they're going to confidently shoot the ball no matter how close the Longhorns defenders are.
On top of that ability to hit shots from deep, Penn State is also a team that doesn't turn the ball over a lot. That might make it hard for Texas to go on runs, which is what you need to do in order to cover bigger spreads. This is one of the most fascinating matchups of the second round. It seems like it can genuinely go either way, but the oddsmakers do seem to think it'll be high in scoring.
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